March 24, 2016 5 min read

Feather plucking is a common behavior found in parrots.  This is a disorder in which the bird damages or pulls out its own feathers. In some cases the bird will bite off or chew at feathers.  Other birds may strip or barber their feathers. And some birds simply pull them out by the entire shaft, leaving vast areas of bald spots. All these feather damaging behaviors are a very frustrating problem for both veterinarian and the bird owner. After all, a lot of us are drawn to our birds beautiful plumage.

While some birds pluck due to environmental or parrot husbandry issues, others, even in an ideal setting, pluck for seemingly no reason at all. Sometimes feather plucking behavior can be related to an upsetting event such the death of a flock mate or a significant change within the family. as the owner not giving the bird a specific food item, the perfect toy, or going away for the weekend.  It might be due to an injury that caused scar tissue and made feathers feel uncomfortable.  Whatever the cause, feather plucking behavior is often progressive in nature unless step are taken early on to manage the problem. The parrot may start with one part of the body such as the chest, but starts to damage other areas such as the legs, back, wings, neck, or abdomen. Feather plucking takes on an obsessive compulsive nature.

Feather Plucking Supplements

In many cases nutrition has a major influence on your parrot’s feather plucking. If your parrot pet bird is otherwise healthy, but it keeps damaging its feathers you may try using feather plucking supplements. 

Avian Specific Multi-vitamin

Growing new feathers is taxing on the body. Feathers are mainly composed of keratin, which is an insoluble protein made of amino acids such as leucine and tyrosine, as well as sulfur. Other nutrients that a feather plucker, especially seed eaters, may be lacking include vitamin A, Calcium and trace minerals, protein, and essential fatty acids. Mineral deficiencies, particularly calcium, sulfur, zinc, magnesium, and silicon take a toll on a parrots overall health. Insufficient vitamin A may lead to dry and itchy skin that results in discomfort which may contribute to a plucking disorder. Your avian veterinarian can easily do tests to find out if your bird is deficient on vitamins and nutrients. A good multi-vitamin may be in order. 

Skin and Feather Health

Being from tropical climates, captive parrots are prone to dry skin While not a supplement, per se FeatherSoft helps ease the discomfort of dry, itchy skin.  This oat based powder is mixed with water and sprayed on the skin.  Alternatively, if your bird scratches a lot, you may also use UnRuffledRx Aloe Vera Spray.  Aloe Vera has unique properties which help heal and soothe rashes and abrasions caused by too much scratching.  You can use Aloe Vera and FeatherSoft interchangeably.

Feather regeneration, whether due to a natural annual molt or because of a feather plucking problem is very taxing on the parrots body.  The protein used to make feathers has a unique amino acid composition that differs from the proteins in the rest of the body. Unfortunately this unique mix nutrients are rarely found in plant foods whether it be seeds, nuts, fruits or vegetables.  It is recommended to offer your parrot a specific feather growth supplement which offers the correct selection of amino acids found in feathers. Plus, a supplement such as UnRuffledRx FeatheredUp! Supplementing with correctly selected amino acid has  a dramatic effect on both the quality of feathers produced and the speed with which they are replaced. We recommend that FeatheredUp! be used along with a multi-vitamin to insure that your bird receives essentials rich in mineral, vitamins, and balanced in proteins. 

Feathering Formula for birds


Calcium serves many purposes in the body.  One, of course is bone health, but another, often misunderstood function is to keep the nervous system in check. One symptom of low calcium is nervous, anxious behavior. For this reason, a calcium supplement is often recommended for its calming effect in case of feather plucking behavior. UnRuffledRx Calcium, Magnesium +D3 has high bio-availability due to the unique mix of magnesium and D3 which are required for the body to synthesize calcium. Always  check with your avian veterinarian regarding how much calcium to offer your parrot. Sometimes a high early dose will ensure a proper calcium reserve in the bones of calcium deficient parrots. 


Another recommended nutritional supplement to aid feather plucking behavior in parrots is parrot specific probiotics. Birds who are plucking their feathers may have stressed digestive systems. A digestive calming product can help improving nutrient absorption and maximize their gut function.

Stressed parrots may have a reduced blood supply to the digestive system and this may lead to chronic digestive upset and many other complications. Liquid or powder probiotic supplements can help to rebalance the digestive system which have a positive impact on feather plucking parrots. Birds on a pellet diet may also experience problems because the minerals and vitamins added to these pellets are not enough to compensate for normal levels. Some pellets may be missing essential enzymes because they are destroyed in processing.  Most avian vets recommend supplementing pellets with protein, green food, nuts, seeds, vegetables, or fruits, which are found in a wild birds’ natural diet. 

Feather Plucking Supplements

Parrot Calming Supplements

Feather plucking birds are often anxious and stressed.  For this reason, we recommend avian specific parrot calming supplements. Nobody wants a drugged up bird, so we offer a variety of gentle to moderate calming formulas.

Gentle Calming:  Chamomile based products are the most gentle solution for parrot anxiety  and are recommended for birds with low intensity anxiety.  Try Loose Chamomile to make a tea or serve up UnRuffledRx Calming Herbs for Parrots.

Moderate Calming:  Stereotypical behaviors such as screaming or mild feather destructive behaviors respond well to daily doses of UnRuffledRx Parrot Calming Formula. This formula is based on the active, calming component of green tea have been found to be very successful.  Relaxation Drops and Shhh! And Pluck No More each combine a variety of calming plants and herbs for birds. 

Intense Calming:  Bird’s that self-mutilate may require intensive, pharmaceuticals to cease self-injurious behaviors.  However, there is a significant amount of research that demonstrates how self-injurious behaviors actually cause changes in the brain chemistry making them very difficult to break.  We recommend combining a bird collar with calming medications when a bird has obsessive feather destructive behavior.

In conclusion, providing the proper vitamins and supplements for your parrot will help maintaining a daily sustained nutrient load, a measured amount of the same macro and micro nutrients. Detox products can also help avoiding some food allergies. You can find a wide range of such vitamins and feather plucking supplements on the Bird Supplies online store.  Check their large supply of vitamins and feather plucking supplements and choose the proper ones for your feather plucking parrot.


Join Facebook Group for Feather Plucking Parrots

[author name="Diane Burroughs, LCSW" bio="Located in Denver, I'm a Mile High author and parrot feather plucking expert. I've always been a devoted animal lover with a special passion for parrots, Diane is also a behavior specialist. Make sure to join my Facebook group, UnRuffledRx Parrot Feather Plucking Help now!" image="birdsupplies.png" facebook="" instagram="" pinterest="" twitter="” ]

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